Open up and say ‘ah’

Since I bought the wagon I have not been able to open the tailgate. The power window doesn’t go up and down so it has effectively locked it closed. After futzing with the wiring without any luck I shelved it as “something to deal with in the spring”. However two weekends ago the weather was amazingly warm for the last weekend of January, and I decided to take advantage of it and work on the tailgate. A couple guys on the Ford Falcon News forums gave me some hints on how to get it open and what to look for.

I unbolted the chrome trim around the back, then from inside pried out a dozen-plus rusty screws attaching the metal channels holding the weatherstripping. Once those were unscrewed and pried loose I carefully unlatched the tailgate and pushed it open, prying the weatherstripping mounts as needed to get the door to swing open. Success! The tailgate was now open, with the glass hanging at a disturbing angle since it was never designed to be in the up position without being supported by the channels.

Fighting with a few more screws, I got the back panel off the tailgate(the screws are inaccessible with the door closed), and was able to get at the guts of the door. Bizarrely someone had unplugged the factory wiring from the motor, made new wiring & attached that, then cut it off at the bottom of the tailgate. This explained why playing with the wiring didn’t work, the factory wiring was not in the circuit anymore.

I tested the motor and it worked, albeit sluggishly. Further testing showed the original wiring from the tailgate to the rest of the harness was also intact. So why they’d added the new wiring is a complete mystery. So I reconnected the old wiring, sprayed some grease on the mechanism and buttoned the whole thing back together. Now that I knew the tailgate worked I started messing with the harness. I found at least five places it had been cut within a two foot chunk. A lot of soldering and shrink wrapping and the harness was back intact. However the limit switch(which keeps the window from moving unless the gate is closed) was bad, the key switch on the tailgate is a stripped out mess and the dash switch doesn’t work(even with a new switch). So as a stop-gap measure I jumpered around the limit switch and wired a regular switch inline with the tailgate switch and mounted it on the back bumper. So now I can at least use the tailgate until I can get in again and make further repairs.

So now I have a real station wagon, not just a car with a really awkward storage area behind the back seats.